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FIRE Homeowners: Tree Trimming - DIY or Hire it out?
Old 10-16-2014, 11:10 AM   #1
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FIRE Homeowners: Tree Trimming - DIY or Hire it out?

Just curious for those FIRE Homeowners whether you tackle trimming your own trees or if you hire that out.

We have three trees in our yard that need periodic trimming - two esp because they are on a fence line with our neighbors and we respect our neighbors space to keep the trees from growing/encroaching too much over the fence into their yards.

But dang - getting a certified arborist ain't cheap.

I've considered that once in FIRE, I'll just do them myself but then worry about the fact I have no idea what I'm doing and pruning them back would result in ruining the trees, falling off ladders, damaging my neighbors yard, etc

Any stories or experiences to share?
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:13 AM   #2
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If I can do it with a pole saw standing on the ground or maybe standing on a step ladder then I do it myself. The branches probably do not exceed 4 inches in diameter. Luckily I have not required tree trimming services beyond that scope.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:18 AM   #3
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I picked up a guy from a tree trimming service to do it as a side job. Catch a crew at lunch and you will likely find one that will be good and cheap but you will have to wait for the person to "fit you in".
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:19 AM   #4
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If I can do it with a pole saw standing on the ground or maybe standing on a step ladder then I do it myself. The branches probably do not exceed 4 inches in diameter.
+1. We've got some larger trees, so that means having an arborist come out every 3-4 years. But, while they are here I get opinions on all the other stuff ("why is that tree turning yellow? This tree looks like it is in decline--can you recommend a replacement? We'd like one that . . ."). Calling the cheapest guy to do the trimming can lead to a mess, so, unless it is a very simple thing I get a real certified arborist.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:34 PM   #5
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I'll still get on a ladder with a chainsaw but am very respectful of the danger it represents. I've recently found someone I pay to do most not because of the cutting but because of the getting rid of part. Frankly, cutting stuff down is fun. Gift wrapping it for the yard waste guys not so much.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:39 PM   #6
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I was on a ladder with a chainsaw and had a limb snap back and hit me in the forehead. I saw noting but white lightning until I hit the ground. My feet were 8' up. Off the ladder I went, and I broke my wrist. It could have been a lot worse.

I would still use a 12' step ladder, and a gas pole saw. I also had a limb come down and break a leg of the ladder.

If the trees are that bad, cut them way back and do it only every few years. Look on Craigs. If you dispose of the limbs yourself, you can save a lot of money too.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
If I can do it with a pole saw standing on the ground or maybe standing on a step ladder then I do it myself. The branches probably do not exceed 4 inches in diameter. Luckily I have not required tree trimming services beyond that scope.
This is how I handle things as well. However, I'm considering the purchase of a safety harness that I can wear and attach to the tree trunk. Also thinking about getting one of these:
http://www.benmeadows.com/high-limb-...141016175419:s

I've asked a few tree trimming companies to quote me to pare back a few trees, and they've been north of $1,000 . I can't see how the work is worth anywhere near that much, since the tree company is likely to have far better tools than a manual pole saw (i.e., pole chainsaw, etc...) Perhaps that figure includes the rental of a mulcher truck/trailer, cleanup and similar duties. By comparison, I had the same company take out a 3-story cedar tree for only $750, which included grinding down the stump.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:57 PM   #8
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At our camp, we have twelve, 25 to40 foot Black Oaks. Our care consists of praying that they don't die, since the cost of removal is about $1500 to $2000 per tree.

At our home in Peru (IL)... The only tree we had was a 50 ft. Elm, which blew down in a storm three weeks after we moved in. Cost to remove $2000.

In Florida we have two very large Canary Date Palms.. that would terrorize any DIY'er. Spikes that are super dangerous, and almost no way to trim. Two years ago, an out of work guy offered to trim for $50... I paid him $100, and still felt guilty. You have to see, up close and personal, to appreciate.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:04 PM   #9
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I paid just over $500 for complete palm trimming and removal of two giant birds of paradise in our back courtyard area. IMO, it was totally worth it for now. When retired, I *might* do it myself, but I doubt I would've done as good a job in a week as these guys did in about six hours. Coupled with the disposal, and how aggressive they were in the trimming, it's an expense I can justify every two or three years.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:25 PM   #10
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Rented a lift and did my own. Not wiling to climb any further than I want to fall. Tree stands for deer hunting and ladders to the roof are as high as I get these days.

Seriously, renting a lift is much safer than climbing the tree. If I can't get to it with a pole saw and the lift then I would hire it out.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:28 PM   #11
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Yes.

Like many here I suspect, I do everything I can myself, but if it's beyond my ability in terms of equipment and/or safety I contract it out.

Just had three trees professionally removed Monday. One was definitely way too big and close to the house for me to tackle, me and the house would have likely been damaged. I could have rented a chainsaw and cut down the other two, but then I'd have a tough time disposing of them and stumps. So I bit the bullet and blew $1500 to remove all three, disposal, stump grinding and fill dirt. In the past 22 years, we've had to use pros 3 times (dutch Elm disease took 5 trees , big maple out front hit by lightning and split in half incl half out in the street , and above).

DW's happy, does it get any better?
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:44 PM   #12
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Every 10 years or so, I have succumbed to the "in your neighborhood today" tree trimmers. I pay about $2000 each time for 10 years worth of growth. The lot is about 2/3 acre with close to a dozen mature trees on the lot. After I say go for it, about a dozen guys show up and work for about 3-4 hours.

Last time they actually took a dead tree down as part of the job.

-gauss
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:50 PM   #13
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Same as most replies here, if I can reach within reasonable safe means, I do it myself. If bigger and taller than that, just pay up. I have two gas chain saws, hand pole saw, bow saws, and do all my own trimming in general. No real huge trees at my house, so that means i end up doing the work.

Clean-up I always do myself, I load up my trailer and take to county transfer station where they have a big green waste dump area. They chop it into mulch, which is free if you load yourself. Or pay the $5 (well worth that!!) for them to load with their big bucket loader. Then spread the mulch chips around back at house. The mulch is crappy, mostly shredded wood, but great for areas like under where park vehicles or to keep mud down.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:51 PM   #14
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Trees are beautiful, and provide shade and comfort in the summertime. A yard full of trees provides a restful natural refuge from our busy daily lives.

In hurricane country, they also have a pretty good probability of falling on your house, and sometimes as a result they require a new roof and dealing with an insurance company for reimbursement.

I had three trees that I had trimmed by professionals periodically. I had them all removed professionally too. I must admit that the pros had some assistance from Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, which took two of them down.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:14 PM   #15
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Ladder + chain saw = fool

... don't ask how I know this.

I rent a 50 ft lift once a year for a day ($250/day). This year's effort was: dropped a 50ft dead hard wood in 2 ft chunks (will be firewood); cleaned the chimney; dropped 2 "widow makers" created from a storm. Next year's list will be different (but the chimney is always there).
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:25 PM   #16
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If you ever find yourself near a ladder trimming, YOU ARE STUPID.

Ladders are never indicated for tree work. You won't see a ladder on any respectable tree trimming crew's work truck. If you do it yourself, you shouldn't use a ladder either. If you are, you may die. And I'm not kidding.

I am a DIYer to the max, but every 7 years or so, I drop $2k for tree work. Here in the south they grow like weeds. Just part of maintenance.

You want a story? I'll give you one. Friend from church fell off a ladder during tree work last January (9 months ago) and is still in rehab. He will never walk again. His life is ruined. Probably better if he died.

Here's how ladders kill you with trees. It is always unexpected.

1) You just fall off. Duh-oh.
2) You cut the limb, trunk shifts, ladder is on trunk and shifts and falls off or shakes you off.
3) You cut limb that ladder was leaning against. (Don't laugh.)
4) Limb falls cleanly. Yeah! But then "bounces" back and hits ladder at bottom, and shakes you off.
5) Ladder falls on you.


See #4? This is the sneaky one that gets a lot of people. They can't envision the branch falling and bouncing around. Some of the bounces have huge energy.

Watch a good tree crew. A branch NEVER falls. They always rope it up and lower it. It is a thing of beauty to watch.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:29 PM   #17
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If I remember correctly, last year I had 3 trees trimmed and one removed (too close to the house), included disposal - for $600.

I don't like having the ornamental pear tree (beautiful white blossoms in spring) touching the roof or the tipu growing out of control - it grows fast and drops its tiny green leaves a couple of times a year.

So, we have them trimmed back about once every 18 months or sooner - depending on the rate of growth.

Just seems like a lot of money that I could 'save' - but then I think about the time involved for cutting, removing/hauling and that I would probably give the trees a 'bad haircut' and boy - I see ALOT of those up and down our street - trees that look incredibly bad.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:35 PM   #18
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Hire it out. And the reason it's so costly is workers compensation insurance is also costly for the tree co. If you are inclined to hire a free-lancer or a company without w/c insurance, YOU may be the deep pockets if an accident occurs. Serious injury and even death happens with tree trimmers. Don't rely on the spoken work of the company, demand to see the w/c insurance evidence of coverage. If they balk , hire some who can show proof.Homeowners insurance w/c coverage usually only covers a maid or gardener employed by you on a regular and continuous basis , not a one shot deal.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:48 PM   #19
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Sounds like I probably ought to shop around a bit more for a better price to outsource the work.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:50 PM   #20
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Since my first chain saw (I still have it) my policy has been that if I can't keep both feet on the ground I hire it out. Some risks are worth taking, ladder+chain saw is not.
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